Wyoming, Idaho, June/July 2023 – Part 1

We met up with family in Wyoming. This is part 1 of 3 with some impressions from this 3-week (20 straight nights of camping) trip. (Part 2, Part 3)

Drive up North
Our drive up north took us through Nevada, a tiny bit of Arizona, Utah, and a little Colorado. Our first camp was at Parowan Gap a petroglyph site with BLM dispersed camping. Next, we stopped at Dinosaur National Monument (not much Dinosaur stuff there, except for their huge Exhibit hall, which we skipped to avoid crowds). We camped on BLM land just north of the monument for our hike up to Split Mtn. and Split BM (the latter has the better views) where we got great views of the Green River spitting the mountain and its 180-degree bend.
We also went down to Echo Park in Dinosaur NM with the intention of taking dirt roads out of the monument to the east. However, recent thunderstorms had made the road extremely muddy in places and we abandoned the idea.
One phenomenon in this part of the country is the Mormon crickets that carpet the road. The road gets slippery in places where lots of them are run over.

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Bighorn Range, WY
We met our travel companions for the next 9 days in the Bighorn Range in Wyoming. Unfortunately, we could not explore as planned since strong thunderstorms combined with the ongoing snowmelt made the roads very muddy. A weather system got stuck in this part of the country and we had some rain and some thunderstorms daily for our time in WY. All this water made mosquitoes very happy. Wherever we stopped we got swarmed right away. So the idea of hanging out at a campsite for several days had to be dismissed. We did manage to do a couple of little hikes.

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Bighorn Range to Wind River Range
We had just left our campsite in the Bighorn forest and negotiated a rather nasty mud hole when we were stopped by other campers informing us that the road below had washed out, but that even getting to the washout was impossible of knee-deep mud. So we turned and picked another line through the mud, this time uphill. Shortly after we met Forest Service Rangers on the way to close roads due to the conditions.
We took Hwy 16 to Tensleep and decided to camp in the Castle Gardens BLM scenic area south of Tensleep. This turned out to be desert camping, nice and dry, and absolutely no mosquitoes.
From there we continued south on dirt roads with the goal of Shoshoni. It all started great. Miles of dry dirt through rolling hills. We met a rancher who was out to get some cows in before the next set of storms. We discussed some route options with him and the recommended a road. Well, unbeknownst to him, a T-storm cell must have moved over the area that night. That created extremely nasty mud. The kind that’s only a couple of inches deep, but sticks immediately to even the coarse off-road tires and makes them slicks, e.g. removes any tread. Turning around was not an option and it was only supposed to be a few miles to a well-graded road. We struggled on the slightest uphills. At one point the big Landcruiser towing the trailer could only make it with traction boards. We were all so busy making it through that we did not take any photos. It was intense.
The next day brought the biggest hail I have ever experienced. An hour after the event I still found golfball-sized hale in the grass.
We stopped in Thermopolis to visit the hot springs. The outdoor experience was almost canceled since we had to wait for a T-storm to move along. We also stopped at Sinks Canyon State Park, outside Lander, where a big creek vanishes in a cave and reappears a quarter mile down the canyon. The water takes 2 hours for this trip. It must be a convoluted trip for it and no details are known.

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The story continues with part 2.

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